[Scroll to the bottom of the article to stream this album while you read]
Ill Clinton has masterminded an instrumental journey. A Philly hip-hop producer (he utilizes many styles – ambient, electronic, experimental), his previous release, 2012’s Renaissance Sound, is a prelude – each one travels the boundary of sounds as a whole. All of the songs on this release, as well as DEPTHS, utilizes a strong minimalistic, not progressive style. Songs on DEPTHS don’t exceed four minutes. Instead of just making a solid beat over a nice melody, he crafts a song and creates a chapter in a story – an audible projection of thoughts and emotion. Every little nuance and detail create a lush, layered experience.
DEPTHS is just an extension of his previous solo efforts (he is also one half of Us Natives). This new release is a fantastic effort into his already impressive set of works. From the start, “Corolla (The Arrival)” tip-toes into the listener’s mind and opens with a speech, layered with a delicate piano. An echo-drenched beat, the song abruptly falls into “Clearly Now”, which thunders off with a magnificent horn melody (Warning: it will be stuck in your head for days) and clacks along with a really groovy beat with a fantastic background ambient whisper. The song mesmerizes you with the horn and bass melody towards the end, romancing you until it also abruptly stops.
“Namm” dramatically catches the attention and jarringly creates a really interesting melody with the very basic, but essential beat. The fluttering sampled vocals are a very nice addition, as well. “Namm” is one of the longest tracks on the album, at 3:28. “I got my own fucking problems,” is the only message with this song, and as it ends, the album takes another dramatic turn. The “layover”, “Hit Your Nasal (Layover)” is a short interlude, but it signifies a change in sound. Afterwards, the album gets deeper.
“Go Away” is a standout, essential track on DEPTHS, chiming sweetly at the very beginning. It delves into this very slow, but creative melody with many little tiny things added amongst the mix, with all of them culminating at the very end. “How Long Lord” and “Tylenol Fluid” are each faster and groovier beats lined with a lot of small details that make each song seem to fit together like puzzle pieces. “Lava” is an ambient piece, which drops further into the music’s emotion. It doesn’t feature a lot of parts or layers, and neither does “Tape Worm”, but the latter surpasses the former with the little percussive bottle-sounding notes. That sound adds, dare I say, depth to the emotion.
“10,000 Miles Away” begins with a retro-sounding floating piano melody that segues into “Your Bitter” and its almost urgent-sounding ambiance. A slow, but incredibly insatiable melody plunders under a unwavering single note. The melody stops and the beat takes over, shining brightly, then slowly returns and plugs right back into the song. Another densely layered track follows – another layover – with the album wrapping itself up with the last two songs. “Intermisery” immediately envelops the listener into a very entertaining and jazzy melody. The bass line is especially notable on this track, and the track melds right into “I’m High (Departure)” which gleamingly ends the album with a very smooth ending.
The most impressive thing about this album is not just the music. It’s the way the music transpires the listener to feel the grooves, to feel the intensity, to feel the emotion of Ill Clinton’s brain. Utilizing music to record one’s emotions is a complicated process which takes some artists years, if not decades (yes, Kevin Shields, I’m pointing at you) to create. He has not only created a collection of tracks that properly connect the listener and the producer, but also affix them to the depth of the music – thus this release couldn’t be named any better. DEPTHS is a foray into a man’s mind – a visionary – and it is definitely worth diving in.
Written by Dylan Tracy
OurVinyl | Contributor